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>3 Poems in Unsere Winterreise — A Danse Macabre Poetic Collaboration

>Did you read my poetic takes on Wilhelm Müller and Franz Schubert’s grand collection known as Winterreise (Winter Journey) which is a cycle of 24 poems in all?

Well then, rush off to Danse Macabre literary journal to read about this wonderful collaboration between several poets to write along the themes in those 24 pieces.

The themes on which I wrote 3 poems were (harking back to my dear man-river Brahmaputra in Assam; my first snowy winter in the US, and an interesting look at ravens/crows that behave absolutely the same way anywhere in the world… !):

— Auf dem Flusse (On the Stream)

The river, usually busy and bubbling, is locked in frozen darkness and lies drearily spread out under the ice. He will write her name, and the date of their first meeting, in the ice with a sharp stone. The river is a likeness of his heart: it beats and swells under the hard frozen surface.

The River on a Pyre

Eyeing the Brahmaputra flowing with its whale-body

and the faraway banks smoking

she thought death stood quiet

quietly performing the ritual

of mouth-fire for her own,

the bodies that once talked

laughed and spread guile.

Eyeing the strong-arm river’s sweep of red ripples

carrying unsuspecting dolphins

and last night’s smoky limbs

from the pyres she watched

across her verandah over the

winter’s damp dribble.

She searched out the smell –

ashes in the wind stuck like the stunned river’s pride

the look of a living face smoke-screened in the twilight.

— Einsamkeit (Loneliness/Solitude)

He wanders along the busy road ungreeted. Why is the sky so calm and the world so bright? Even in the tempest he was not so lonely as this.

Wintered Hourglass

First a feather floats in

does a swirling dance around the lawn

then it drops, softly in my foreign home

one by one

they come to invade

the throbbing serenity

around the little playground, swings and all

knowing kids are asleep, dreaming of riding over white slopes

And they tiptoe, little elves

remind me of the lanky cotton thrashing man who

traversed our hometown streets in summer’s white heat

when called, he set up

a white storm with

cotton for quilts

We loved the magician’s ruse

soft downy puffs flew out

helter-skelter from his old brown gunny bag

with musical whippings he caught hold of each –

one by one

then they swirled and swept

tamed tots

his veined swarthy hands twanged on

The rhythm sang an ode to the floral dance

white and careless, while they dropped

kittens on the loose, all over

the roof, a fidgety fleet

now outside my

lonely doorstep it is all fluffy, full and laden

Wait, the next eager batch rushes in

around the porch, driveway, my little garden seat

they take over the yard

beckon me in this cool shale-

colored noon

where the only music is their descent

they drop float fly

one by one.

Die Krähe (The Crow)

A crow has followed him all along the way from the town. Is it waiting for him to die, so that it can eat him? It won’t be long, let it keep him company to the end.


Ravens talking in earnest is wondrous

The way they don’t want to share food

And are hyperbolic about their flights

Across fallow farmlands, brown fields

Of spent ammonia, and gassy old bogs.

They have compass heads, curt motions

When they talk, ignoring the mauve sky

Of the thunder-bound clouds over a lawn.

Ravens like a drink or two with a peck

Here and there while the light dances

On their twisty heads, darkening against

A screen of sunset silk with no outlets

For ravens to fly out. So they just spar over

How many worms each of them clinched

Or how long then can keep me company

The ravens talk through my unvoiced gaze.

A familiar sight, but who’ll question them

About melting as silhouettes on our eves –

Not a good thing confronting those beaks.

Ravens herald guests. So for my granny’s sake

I have to wait and watch, although all I see

Them dropping from their mouth’s corners

Is rotten stuff in their callous cawing prose.

Read my friend Priti Aisola’s X-mas essay in Danse Macabre here.

And NEWS! I am to be Editor (India) at Danse Macabre, and work to promote the journal’s broad international appeal.

Image: River Brahmaputra in Guwahati, Assam; pictures from my computer.

One comment on “>3 Poems in Unsere Winterreise — A Danse Macabre Poetic Collaboration

  1. Anonymous
    October 21, 2010

    >Really interesting articles. I enjoyed reading it.levitra tabletki

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This entry was posted on December 15, 2009 by in Danse Macabre, Muller, Nabina Das, poetry, Schubert, Winterreise.
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